The esteemed Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is now labeling law-abiding citizens who are exercising their First Amendment rights at the U.S. southern border by protesting illegal border crossings as extremists.
“The FBI has gathered intelligence from people with ‘direct access’ to the organizations and is monitoring their social media, according to the document, called an ‘external intelligence note,’ that was obtained by Yahoo News,” according to a Wednesday Yahoo report.
The document was produced by the FBI office in Phoenix, and reportedly sent to other law enforcement agencies around the region. This is the same FBI, mind you, whose highest level employees worked against President Donald J. Trump, whose main agenda item in 2016 was closing the U.S. southern border with Mexico.
According to Yahoo, the FBI document alleged that such groups of devoted citizens who want America’s borders closed are “increasingly arming themselves and using lethal force to further their goals.”
But there’s a catch. Almost all of the evidence cited by the feds to justify their claims that these pro-border security groups are violent involved non-violent protesting that is perfectly acceptable under the First Amendment. It’s a scary time in America when peacefully exercising your God-given rights gets you put on an FBI watch list.
“The intelligence collected and cited in the FBI document, dated May 30, 2019, is worrisome to activists and civil rights advocates who say that the government is classifying legitimate government opposition and legally protected speech as violent extremism or domestic terrorism,” Yahoo said, citing a University of Chicago law professor.
But the FBI was unwilling to accept any wrongdoing, just as it was when it was caught working against Trump in 2016.
“These products are intended to be informative in nature, and as such, they contain appropriate caveats to describe the confidence in the sourcing of information and the likelihood of the assessment,” an FBI spokesperson reportedly told Yahoo. “Additionally, when written at a local level, these products will note that the perspective offered may be limited to the field office’s area of responsibility.”
Anyone who can make sense of that word salad is welcome to translate for this reporter.
A former FBI agent, Mike German, who is now a fellow at New York University, spoke out against the law enforcement agency. He has been critical of the group in the past, and worries that they are overstepping their boundaries by classifying nonviolent groups of protestors as a terror threat.
“It’s been a feature of the post-9/11 counterterrorism effort by the FBI to focus on nonviolent civil disobedience and to prioritize it,” he reportedly said. “For several years after 9/11, the FBI called environmental activists the No. 1 domestic terror threat, even though there’s not a single homicide related to environmental ‘terrorists’ in the United States.”
This is not the first time that the FBI has labeled non-violent groups as potentially violent while lacking critical evidence to support its claims.
In August, Yahoo reported that so-called “conspiracy theorists” are a domestic terror threat. Indeed, the document referenced in that report came from the same FBI field office in Phoenix, and was produced on the same date as the notice that labeled border protestors as a threat.
“The FBI assesses these conspiracy theories very likely will emerge, spread, and evolve in the modern information marketplace, occasionally driving both groups and individual extremists to carry out criminal or violent acts,” the document said, referencing the QAnon movement, which has never been known to be violent.
We know that the FBI has a difficult job, and we commend the men and women who work daily to keep us safe. But the higher ups at the agency seem bent on labeling ordinary Americans as a threat to the country that they love.
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